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The Environmental Science Track: Online Master of Science, Soil Specialization
Begin your career in the environmental sciences with an undergraduate degree in the environmental science track. Bright Hub’s own Willa explains your options in her article entitled “Texas Tech University's B.S. Degree in Horticulture and Turf Grass Science Distance Learning Program.” She reveals that this kind of career choice may lead to irrigation work, research, teaching, or governmental work. Moreover, this career choice may also lead to your direct involvement in the preservation of forested or agricultural lands as well as the environmental protection of wetlands and nature preserves. A graduate degree that builds on such an undergraduate degree may open the door to work as a conservation scientist among other fields.
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Masters Level Distance Education Options
University of North Carolina
The University of North Carolina---a school that is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)---offers a master of soil science that is primarily available online. There are two field study courses that provide the hands-on experience needed for proper soil classification; they may be taken at local universities. Coursework involves education in wetland soils, the environmental applications of soil sciences, soil chemistry and microbiology, and assorted waste management classes. The entire program requires the completion of thirty-six credit hours. North Carolina residents pay $216 per credit hour while non-residents pay $432.
University of Florida
The University of Florida’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offers a master of science in environmental science. It offers an emphasis in soil and water science in particular. Students may choose the thesis track and complete the program after thirty credits or forego the thesis but complete a total of thirty-five credits. A GRE minimum score is no longer one of the admission requirements to the program. The average cost of annual attendance is about $9,470, which covers tuition and fees but not books. Coursework includes soil ecology and physics, biochemistry of wetlands, and classes on water quality.
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Employability and Remuneration
Graduating with an online master of science, soil or soil and water emphasis, provides employability in forestry, wildlife ecology, hydrology, or a number of environmental teaching or conservation professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is quick to point out that job growth in the field of conservation science is slower than in other professions; this of course increases the competitive nature of the field.
The main employer is the government and its various departments that govern agriculture, conservation, and land management. Earnings vary depending on the job title, employer, and experience. A conservation scientist’s median income in 2006 was $54,970. Starting pay for applicants with a master’s degree was $43,731 while holders of an undergraduate degree started at $28,862. A doctorate in the field might earn up a starting salary of $63,417.
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- University of North Carolina: http://courses.soil.ncsu.edu/dlmasters/index.html
- University of Florida: http://soils.ifas.ufl.edu/distance/
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos048.htm